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SUNY Potsdam students set for summer internships


POTSDAM — Their itineraries are set and the bags of four SUNY Potsdam students soon will be packed for a summer trip they will remember for the rest of their lives.

The students are participating in a five-week summer internship program called “Living the Map,” a national pilot program that’s new to SUNY Potsdam this year.

The students will intern at five jobs in different locations each week during the program. They will work five days at each job, traveling on the weekends and staying with host families.

“This is kind of an immersion,” said Toby J. White, director of experiential education at SUNY Potsdam. “These sites will try to teach them as much about the field in one week as they possibly can.”

Kateryna A. Szewczyk of Yorktown Heights, a double major in speech communication and dance, will intern in Newport, R.I., Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, New York City, and Providence, R.I. Kareem G. Attia, a geology major from Brooklyn, will intern in Laramie, Wyo., Denver, Colo., Albuquerque, N.M., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Tulsa, Okla. Anthony W. Horton, a criminal justice major from Colonie, will intern in New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming and will finish in either Denver or Arizona. Chelsea E. Rourke is a communications major from Raymondville who will spend five weeks working at different jobs in Chicago.

The program was recently developed by Daniel A. Seddiqui, author of “Fifty Jobs in Fifty States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America.”

Mr. Seddiqui, Denver, graduated from the University of Southern California with an economics degree in 2005, but his job search afterward didn’t go as well as hoped. “I failed over 40 job interviews,” he said. “It was a tough process and it hit me really hard.”

After years of searching, Mr. Seddiqui decided to travel the country and work at a different job in a different state each week for 50 weeks.

“I tried to work at a place that reflects the culture and economy of each state,” he said.

Mr. Seddiqui said he worked at various jobs and stayed with families of co-workers. He said finding jobs that would take on an extra employee for one week wasn’t easy.

“I had about 5,000 rejections,” he said. “But 48 of the 50 jobs wanted me to go full-time after by the end of the week.”

After writing his book, he decided to start the “Living the Map” internship program, for which he finds sites and host families for participating schools and students.

Potsdam and Oswego are the only two SUNY schools to adopt it so far. Potsdam students will receive six credits for the program and it will cost them $950 plus the usual tuition and fees of a six-credit summer session. Mr. Seddiqui matches the students up with sites and host families according to the students’ applications and interests.

The students are required to attend an orientation week June 30 to July 3 at SUNY Potsdam and will begin their first internship the following week. They also will read Mr. Seddiqui’s book before their journeys.

“I contributed just like any other employee and the summertime is when they have a greater demand for some of the fields these students are going into,” Mr. Seddiqui said. “I made great connections in one week’s time. That’s what I hope the students can get out of this.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students,” Ms. Rourke said. “We’re kind of in a bubble in Potsdam, and if students don’t have what they want to do right in Potsdam, it can be difficult to get a feel for what that field will be like.”

Ms. Rourke will live in Chicago with her sister Lindsay Meacham for the five weeks of interning.

“Having grown up in the north country, I’ve never lived in a city,” she said. “I’m excited for that first week and to be thrown into the Chicago setting. It’s definitely a more fast-paced environment than Potsdam.”

Ms. Rourke said that since she’s never really been sure what she wanted to do after college, she hopes to have a better idea after this summer as well as a general overview of all of the companies and how they operate on a regular basis.

“I’m excited to get a bunch of different experiences in a bunch of different places,” she said.

Mr. White said he hopes the program will expand and become available to more students.

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